Words of Wisdom
Posted: February 9, 2007
We’ve found ourselves with a number of large branding projects over the past year, and I’ve found myself digging through my aging, yet more-relevant-than-ever library of design books.
As I look for inspiration and direction in the thought processes and works of masters like Armin Hofmann, Saul Bass, Ivan Chermayeff, Milton Glaser, Lou Dorfsman, Seymor Chwast, and so on, I notice that I keep coming back to the straight-forward, no bullsh*t, and remarkably elegant writing of Paul Rand.
There’s something in the simplicity and directness that Rand always exhibited that rings true with the way we approach things here at VisionPoint (remember VisionPoint’s brand attributes? simple, bright, thoughtful, agile, friendly). One passage on logo design from Rand’s book: Design, Form, and Chaos has helped us designers put things in perspective for ourselves as well as for the clients we are designing for:
Here is what a logo is and does:
- A logo is a flag, a signature, an escutcheon, a street sign.
- A logo does not sell (directly), it identifies.
- A logo is rarely a description of a business.
- A logo derives its meaning from the quality of the thing it symbolizes, not the other way around.
- A logo is less important than the product it signifies, what it represents is more important than what it looks like.
- The subject matter of a logo can be almost anything.
Going into a logo design project with these statements running through your head allows for a freer, less intimidating process. Sharing these statements with your client allows them to see the process and the output in context (i.e. this logo represents your organization … but it is NOT your organization).
As we complete some of these branding projects over the next few months (as well as some other exciting projects we are working on now) we will post the results and process on this site. Check back to see more later.
Paul Rand is of the fathers of American Graphic Design, responsible for numerous icons of corporate America (including IBM, UPS, Westinghouse). He also wrote a number of books and essays (just Google his name); he taught at Pratt, Cooper Union, and Yale; he illustrated, painted, and designed; and although he had a reputation for being a bit gruff, my limited interactions with him back in Boston were always pleasant, challenging and inspirational.